Pasifika Languages of Manukau

The Pasifika Languages of Manukau Project investigated the use of, and attitudes to, the four main Pasifika languages in Manukau — Tongan, Samoan, Niuean and Cook Island's Maori — with the intention of contributing to their maintenance.

Greetings in the four languages (full greetings available in the pdf documents).

The three-year project (2001-2003) was supported principally by a grant from the Marsden Fund and also by the Woolf Fisher Research Centre, The University of Auckland and Manukau Institute of Technology. The four languages were researched through interviews using a 27-page questionnaire.

In all 120 interviews were recorded with young, middle and older age groups, equal numbers of women and men, and representation of island- and NZ-born.

The questionnaire asked for:

  • demographic information
  • family history
  • language fluency
  • language use
  • language attitudes
  • issues of language maintenance.

Project findings

While the project showed that the Pasifika languages were currently in a relatively healthy condition, overall there was a clear trend indicated by many of the factors analysed which point to a shift away from the community language and towards English by these Pasifika groups.

This is evident particularly on related factors, such as language used to younger family members and differences between language use in interviewees' childhood homes compared with their current homes.

Indications were that there was a danger that these languages could be lost in the future if warning signs were not heeded to and appropriate measures adopted now.

Research team

Allan Bell, AUT
Donna Starks, University of Auckland
Karen Davis, Manukau Institute of Technology
Melenaite Taumoefolau, University of Auckland.

Academic Advisors Vavao Fetui, Rangi Moeka`a, Nuhisifa Williams, Melenaite Taumoefolau.

Tose Tuhipa, Pita Williams, Viliami `Alofi, Tere Tarapu.

Nga Puna, Vasilini Faletau, Ma`ina Field, Ofania Ikiua.

Research assistants
Tenoa Puna, Merry Ane Heka, Helen Tanielu, Malia Talakai.

Susie Marsh, Ofania Ikiua, George Major, Alan Wendt.